Friday, January 9, 2015

01-09-2015 – Riding Shotgun – Snow On The Mountain (w/pics)

Well, it wasn’t a mountain, actually, just a tall hill. At work, we’ve spent the last couple of days hauling dirt away from a hill, which the owner wants to make shorter. We then take it to another hill, about ten miles away, that an oil company wants to make taller. They’re putting in a small compressor station and don’t want to chisel the hill out, apparently, so they’re bringing in dirt to make a level spot for the facility.

About ten of our trucks are doing the hauling, and about a half-dozen from other companies. It’s about an hour-and-a-half round trip, including loading and unloading, waiting to get loaded and sitting at the bottom of the mile-long haul road to take our turn (usually 3-5 at a time) to climb the hill to get to the site. The road is narrow enough that passing is difficult, so they try not to have anyone coming down as anyone is going up. CB’s and a couple of “flag ladies” allow them to stay organized.

Yesterday, it was about zero and there was 4-6 inches of snow on the ground when they started. I had to go get my yearly DOT physical to keep my CDL, so I didn’t actually go on the job until 11 o’clock. The mechanic already had my truck started when I got there, so I didn’t have THAT to contend with. Despite having to pee in a cup (Remember LAST time?), it didn’t turn out too bad this time, since it didn’t include a drug test and I could use my multi-tool as a handle for the cup. My blood pressure just barely passed, I’m STILL not diabetic (how, I don’t know), but there WAS a little blood in my urine. The nurse laughed when she told me that and said that was PROOF that I was a truck driver, because nearly ALL truck drivers have blood in their urine. Apparently, it’s caused by the beating that our backsides take when we hit all those !@%#$*)(%#! potholes.

Today, it was just warm enough that I didn’t need to use starting fluid on my truck, plus I got started when the rest of the crew did. As the day went on, the temperature actually went down. We had a little sun, a LOT of clouds, and some snow flurries. The wind on the hilltop was horrendous, so when the snow fell, it traveled a nearly horizontal path. The heater in my truck worked when the spirit moved it, usually turned on and off by pot-holes or bumps on the highway. By wearing my jacket all day and putting the windows up and down, I was able to keep the cab reasonably comfortable, despite a heater fan that was either going full blast or was off completely.

The road got a little icy after a certain point, in spite of being surfaced with limestone, so they brought in some cinders and scattered on the haul road. We didn’t so much need them going up the steep spots, but coming down. One guy was a little nervous as he sat at the bottom of one slope waiting to come up as I was going down. I told him not to worry, that if I started skidding, That I wouldn’t hit him, I’d just take my foot off the brake and go shooting past him. That’s exactly what I WOULD have done, but it doesn’t sound very reassuring when you say it out loud!

After my last load was dumped and I headed for the shop, I realized that the spatter from the four-lane section of the haul, combined with the low angle of the sun, had given me a dangerously dirty windshield. Since the washer, unlike the heater, doesn’t work at all, I stopped along the road and threw some snow on the windshield, then quickly climbed in and turned the wipers on, as the snow melted. I don’t know if I figured that out on my own, or if I picked the trick up from someone else, but I’ve been doing it for years when the washer on a vehicle doesn’t work right in snowy weather. Luckily, I remembered not to put my wet hands on the metal bars to climb in, but pulled my hands inside my jacket sleeves first and used them like mittens. It might have been both embarrassing AND uncomfortable to have been frozen to the side of my truck! © 2015

Click an image to enlarge it.

This is the hill that they want to make shorter.

This is where they're trying to make a hill taller (or at least flatter on top).

One view from the "mountain."


Sunnybrook Farm said...

Still wearing that coat! We haven't had the snow just cold, you are having a time of it. Sounds like you need a pillow for your truck seat.

Ralph Goff said...

Nice scenery but I would not feel too comfortable driving those roads when its slippery.

Lady Locust said...

We call that 'snowing sideways.' Glad you are working and at this time have some nice country to ponder over as you drive. Keep safe.

Gorges Smythe said...

It's got an air seat if I'd use it, SF, but I've found that I don't like it.

lol - I guess it's all what you're used to, Ralph. I love the hills; I think I'd be bored witless driving in flat land!

I believe that I've heard that term, LL; it certainly is accurate.

Chickenmom said...

When Hubby was driving the bus, he sat on a little round cushion, he said it helped a little bit and could sure tell when he forgot to bring it with him! The mountains are beautiful. Couldn't live where every landscape is flat either.

Ralph Goff said...

Gorges, re: air ride seats. They are the best thing to hit farm machinery far as I am concerned. I can literally feel the difference in comfort between the tractor with air and the one without. Get them set for your weight and they isolate you from all the shaking and bumps.

Gorges Smythe said...

My weight is the problem, Ralph. The more air that I add, the higher the seat rises, until my head nearly scrapes the ceiling. Anything less, and it lets me build momentum until it bottoms out, giving my spine a horrible jolt.